Christmas pastries have delighted the young and old alike ever since the start of baking traditions. With a primarily Eurocentric focus, these pastries are rooted in tradition and quintessentially represent the holidays. Here's how they celebrate with sweets around the world.


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Julia Gilman

If being stuck inside during the holiday season is giving you cabin fever, then palmiers are the cure. Translating to palm tree, palmiers are a simple combination of puff pastry and sugar, which is sure to remind you of warmer weather.

La Bûche de Nöel


La Bûche de Nöel is a complex cake meant to resemble a Yule log. You can buy one online, but making it yourself is much more rewarding.



Literally translating to "crown," the couronne is a twisted sweet bread stuffed with marzipan and various fruits. Its characteristic shape was formed when European bakers began to search for ways to bake the pastry without a raw center.

Roscón de Reyes


With a similar story to the French couronne, the Spanish Roscón de Reyes was introduced by King Phillip V as a way to celebrate Three Kings Day—something his uncle King Louis XV of France enjoyed. However, unlike the couronne, a traditional Roscón de Reyes is an unfilled, sweet yeasted dough flavored with orange and rum.



Mantecados are a category of butter pastries from Spain, which were invented to use up Spain's surplus of lard. Today's versions substitute in butter, are typically flavored with anise, and are very popular around Christmas time.



Baked in specially designed ring molds, the kransekake is a gluten free, almond-based cake from Scandinavia. This pastry is meant to resemble a Christmas tree covered in snow.

Christmas Stollen


The German Stollen is a marzipan-filled fruit bread originating in Dresden in the 1400s. Original versions of the recipe did not have butter or rich ingredients in the bread because those ingredients were heavily taxed. However, in the pursuit of flavor and changing times, the tax was eventually lifted and the Stollen, as it is known today, was born.



The original gingerbread cookie, German Lebkuchen traditionally contain no fat and are a holiday favorite among children and grandparents alike.



One of the most recognizable Italian Christmas pastries is the Panettone. Typically made from mixed cultured sourdough and candied fruit, easier versions can be made from a biga started in your fridge the night before.



Brunsli are small, Swiss, brownie-like cookies that bake extremely quickly. A minute or two over-baked and they'll be extremely hard.

Pan de Rabanada


Essentially a Brazilian French toast, what separates Pan de Rabanada is the incorporation of wine into the soaking custard. If you're in Brazil, look for the special bread used for this pastry in stores around Christmas time.

Christmas Pudding

United Kingdom

Puddings are either steamed or boiled and can be sweet or savory. People in the U.K. eat sweet Christmas Puddings as a way to finish off a Christmas feast.

Mincemeat Pie


Mincemeat refers to the texture that dried fruits take on after being ground in a meat grinder. There are as many recipes for mincemeat pie as there are families in Britain, but the one commonality is that they are all traditionally served around Christmas time.



If you can ever get a Hungarian grandmother to give you her beigli recipe, take it and run. Beigli is an extremely hard to make rolled pastry, and it is often filled with either ground walnuts or ground poppy seeds.



Štedrák is a layered cake made with layered dough, poppy seeds, ground nuts, farmer's cheese, and plums. Its many layers represent abundance in the coming year.



Cozonac is a sweet yeast-raised egg bread filled with ground walnuts—like many Eastern European Christmas breads—and has a tender crumb.



Traditionally cooked on a spit, Šakotis is made by spooning a thin batter over a metal rod as it rotates near a heat source. When it's done, the finished cake resembles a Christmas tree.


Denmark, Austria, and the United States

The kringle is actually a Danish variation on the German pretzel. Originally just a sweet bread, its characteristic fillings and ring shape were introduced by immigrant Danish bakers in Wisconsin using Austrian techniques.